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Michelle Wie ready for European Tour debut

Michelle Wie will compete against men for the 10th time in her career when she tees it up at the European Masters.

The 16-year-old American will make her European Tour debut Thursday, playing with Nick Dougherty of England and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain. Wie made the cut at an Asian Tour event in May.

"Obviously I want to make the cut and play some good golf," Wie said Tuesday. "But I can only control what I do. So I just want to try my hardest."

Wie is aware that not everybody supports her participation in men's events.

"I'm not expecting 100-percent support every week," Wie said. "But that's the way the world works. There are people that support me and people who don't. I'm not just doing it because of the support I get. I'm doing it for myself and for my own self-esteem."

In the long term, Wie hopes to play in the Ryder Cup someday.

"That would be awesome," she said. "But I think it's totally possible. The players are getting better and stronger and starting to work out a lot more. I hope we can do it."

Wie got an exemption because one of her sponsors, Omega watchmakers, sponsors the tournament. She prepared for Thursday's competition by playing a practice round with Sergio Garcia.

"It was the first time, playing it with Sergio," Wie said. "I'm very honored to be here. It's going to be a fun week."

Wie said she enjoyed playing the Crans-sur-Sierre course, but the greens are tough.

"The greens are very tricky, so I must be very patient and try my best and see what happens," Wie said. "I just want to play some good golf and, especially, have a lot of patience."

Wie made the cut against men at the SK Telecom Open in South Korea, finishing 12 shots off the lead. She withdrew from the John Deere Classic in July because of heat exhaustion.

Garcia believes Wie could make the cut at the European Masters.

"She's got to play well, though," he said. "It's just a matter of getting it going the right way and getting some good momentum on her side. It's not an easy golf course, but she can definitely do it."

Garcia cited one potential problem for Wie.

"If she had a bit of a higher ball flight it would be a little bit easier for her here," he said. "She's definitely quite straight and she knows what she's doing out there. But I would love to see her get the ball flight just a little bit up. I think it would give her a little more control."

Wie doesn't expect to see men playing at women's events.

"I think my perspective on this is that the British Open is not called the men's British Open," Wie said. "It's called the British Open. And so is the PGA, it is called the Professional Golf Association. There is no Men's Professional Golf Association, no Man's Professional Golf Association.

"Whereas our PGA is called the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the British Open is called the Women's British Open. So I think it is very clear."

September 6, 2006


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